Burning wood can be a very economical, and cozy, way to heat your home through the cold winter months. Caution must be taken however, to ensure that the fire burns safely and efficiently. Burning anything other than cured wood, or a fireplace that does not properly vent, can fill your home with dangerous toxins. The American Lung Association offers these tips to minimize the expense and environmental effects of indoor wood burning:
- Only burn seasoned firewood. Never burn painted or treated wood, plastics, glossy magazines, particle board or plywood. These materials release toxic chemicals into the air that can damage your fireplace, and be harmful to your health.
- Give your wood about a year to fully cure before you burn it. This allows enough time for the wood to completely dry out. You can test it by hitting two pieces together. If you get a sharp crack, the wood is ready to be burned. If you get a dull thud, it is not ready yet.
- Split your firewood. Wood dries from the surface inward, so splitting helps it dry much faster. Split your wood into 4-6 inches in diameter. The more surface area is exposed to the flame, the better the wood will burn.
- Store wood outside in a place sheltered from weather that allows air to circulate. Don’t store it directly on the ground – instead block up the woodpile a couple of inches from the ground. And only keep a small amount of wood inside your home. Bringing in a lot of wood to dry in the home will release a lot of humidity in the home.
- Be sure your fire gets enough air while it is burning. This will ensure it burns hot and clean. Have your chimney inspected once a year for obstructions in the liner that will prevent the flow of smoke up and out of the house.
Chim Chimmey’s professional Chimney Sweeps can inspect your fireplace and chimney and ensure you are burning wood as efficiently and safely, as possible.